Monday, November 23, 2015


She already ruled out Wanted 2 and she's more likely to do Maleficent 2 than Bride of Frankenstein.  She has never voiced any interest in either the horror genre or the character and the only way I see her interest being piqued is if a director she loves like David Fincher or Darren Aronofsky was directing.
The THR article quotes "sources" who also threw out ridiculously high figures for By The Sea"s "cost".  They supported their guesstimate that By the Sea cost $25M because In the Land of Blood and Honey cost $13M (it's $10M on IMDB) with no-names.  But Blood and Honey featured battle scenes, extra logistics like artificial snow, and a large cast with dozens.of extras, whereas By the Sea has maybe a dozen actors in total including the two leads (who reportedly were paid only $1.5M each) and takes place mostly in 2 - 3 rooms.  If you've seen the movie you'll know it was not an expensive shoot and the only way the budget would get to $25M is if the two leads collected $15M between them -- which is not the case.  The film also benefited from incentives and support given by the Malta Film Commission.   It's also hard to imagine the studio spending $15M on promotion when they aired very few ads -- as Deadline already noted.

-- Fussy

For all the heroes Angelina Jolie has portrayed over the years, she has developed just as strong of a knack for creating iconic monsters. From Grendel’s mother in Beowulf to Maleficent, the actress’ beauty and gravitas have always endowed her with the ability to dominate a scene in a frightening way. Now, if rumors are to be believed, she may soon bring that skill to an iconic Universal monster: the Bride of Frankenstein.

THR reports that Universal is currently eyeing Jolie to portray the venerable cinematic monster for producer Brian Grazer. The report indicates that the studio’s decision to back her recent passion project, By the Sea, was so that she will now return the favor by lending her household name to a likely more profitable project. It remains entirely plausible that Universal will use this leverage to get Jolie involved in a long-awaited sequel to the 2008 action film Wanted, but as of now it seems that getting her involved in the Bride of Frankenstein is the more likely scenario.

Fans of classic movie monsters will undoubtedly remember that the Bride of Frankenstein debuted in the 1935 film of the same name. She was created by Doctor Septimus Pretorius – Dr. Frankenstein’s former mentor – to exist as a bride for Frankenstein’s original monster. In the years since the film’s release, she has become arguably as iconic as her male counterpart – especially her tall black and white hairstyle.

If Jolie does indeed sign on to the project, it seems likely that it will be a long term investment for both her and the studio. Universal has had plans to create their own "Universal Monster Universe" in the same vain as the Marvel Cinematic Universe for quite some time. Instead of Iron Man and Captain America, characters such as Frankenstein, the Mummy, Dracula, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon will inhabit this realm and interact with one another across films and storylines. Universal began this endeavor back in 2014 with Dracula Untold. Starring Luke Evans, the film experienced moderate success at best, but it got the ball rolling on this universe – albeit with shaky footing. Bringing Jolie and her star power into the fold may have the effect of stabilizing everything – similar to Warner Bros. decision to cast established star Ben Affleck as Batman opposite relative Hollywood newcomer Henry Cavill in the DC Extended Universe.

It’s worth noting that, as of now, these are all just rumors. Until we know for sure that Jolie has signed on the dotted line, nothing can be confirmed. We here at Cinema Blend will keep you informed on all updates regarding Angelina Jolie, her role as the Bride of Frankenstein, and the Universal Monster Universe at large. Stay tuned.

Though the "bride" of the title, played by Elsa Lanchester in director James Whale's 1935 classic, is ultimately a supporting player in the original film (the character isn't introduced until very late in the plot), it's likely the role would be expanded for the likes of Jolie Pitt given her A-list starpower and proven box-office track record. I personally like the idea of the mega-star playing the wide-eyed, lab-created beauty, and it's certainly not hard to image the actress -- who proved her ghoulish credentials in last year's "Maleficent" -- donning the mile-high wig Lanchester made iconic 80 years ago.


Will 'By the Sea' Kill Hollywood "Favor" Movies?

As Universal and Warner Bros. take hits with films from Angelina Jolie Pitt and Sandra Bullock, respectively, failing at the box office, passion projects greenlighted for big studio stars face off against the new Hollywood frugality.

This story first appeared in the Dec. 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Angelina Jolie Pitt's By the Sea offers an art house-style rumination on a failing marriage. Ironically, it provides a more revealing glimpse into the perils of a different type of relationship: the so-called "favor" movie.
For years, Hollywood studios have lined up to back projects with limited commercial appeal as a way of keeping the biggest stars and directors in their fold. Call it the "One for me, one for you" principle.
But with the failures of Universal's By the Sea and Warner Bros.' Sandra Bullock political drama Our Brand Is Crisis, many believe the major studios will be a bit more hesitant to finance and put their marketing muscle behind a passion project better suited for the specialty marketplace.

In July 2014, in a competitive situation, Universal acquired worldwide rights to By the Sea and set Jolie Pitt (who was finalizing the studio's Unbroken) to direct and star with husband Brad Pitt, prompting Jolie Pitt to invoke the 'R' word. "I am very happy to continue my relationship with Donna and the entire Universal team," she said at the time, referring to Universal chairman Donna Langley. "They have created a very special place for storytellers."

But now the studio stands to lose as much as $40 million on By the Sea, according to two knowledgeable sources who place the film's budget at closer to $25 million than the $10 million Universal insists it cost (and the marketing expense at $15 million). The film grossed $185,000 from 126 theaters in its second week of release and has amassed a paltry domestic haul of $313,000 so far. One source scoffs at the $10 million figure, noting that Jolie Pitt's directorial debut, In the Land of Blood and Honey, a Serbian-language war film with a no-name cast, cost $13 million.

And if By the Sea's poor reviews and low-appeal concept wasn't enough to damage the film's box-office prospects, the marketing sealed its fate. "If you have two of the hottest movie stars on the planet, you might want to put them on the poster," says Rentrak analyst Paul Dergarabedian. Behind the scenes, Jolie Pitt instead fought to use a one-sheet featuring two hats. "Universal wanted to sell it as something sexy, but she wanted it to be sold as a European art house movie," says an insider. "Every trailer and TV spot was cut by her or her group." The move ultimately will backfire on Jolie Pitt and Pitt, who each is said to have taken $1.5 million upfront in exchange for a hefty backend that never will materialize.

But even if Universal loses tens of millions of dollars on By the Sea, the studio is gambling that by backing Jolie Pitt's artistic whim, she will be amenable to starring in its tentpole Bride of Frankenstein, which is part of the Monster's universe from producers Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan, or a long-hoped-for sequel to Wanted. Either of those films could end up raking in far more in profits than Universal will lose on By the Sea. "Following our successful collaboration with Angie on Unbroken, we jumped at the opportunity to work with her again," says a studio rep in a statement. "Her script and vision for an intelligent and sophisticated film appealed to us, and we wanted to be part of it."

Likewise, Warner Bros. will take a significant loss on Crisis — starring Bullock and produced by George Clooney's Smokehouse — which cost $28 million to make and has earned a feeble $6.9 million as of Nov. 20. Despite poor reviews at the Toronto Film Festival in September, Warners is said to have spent about $40 million to market the film. (The blow to the studio was softened by financial partners Participant and RatPac-Dune). In offering an explanation for the dis­aster, marketing chief Sue Kroll also underscored the relationship factor. "We cherish our relationship with her," said Kroll of Bullock. "Ultimately, neither the concept of the story nor our campaign connected with moviegoers."

Even with Bullock in the lead, the film probably was a better fit for the indie-financed model, as has been the case with many of Crisis director David Gordon Green's films. But Warners was looking to curry favor with both Bullock and Clooney, who co-starred in the studio's megahit Gravity. And the studio has been courting Bullock for a female-centric Ocean's Eleven reboot that Clooney would produce.

Paramount, too, invoked the relationship raison d'etre when explaining Michael Bay's 2013 bodybuilding passion project Pain and Gain, which wasn't a disaster but which grossed far less than his usual big-budget fare. Bay, who has made Paramount billions of dollars with the Transformers franchise, also was given a long leash on his Benghazi movie 13 Hours (Jan. 15), and the film still may end up a hit. "We've had an amazing relationship with Michael Bay," Paramount vice chair Rob Moore recently told THR. "And this is a story he was excited to tell." Therefore, a wide-release movie with a relatively unknown cast about an overseas siege with politically divisive implications could be justified. (A Paramount source insists that the studio was bent on making the film even before Bay stepped in.)

Perhaps the biggest blow to the studio favor film happened earlier this year when Amy Pascal stepped down from her top post at Sony. Pascal long had been a champion of the back-scratcher, including the 2013 debacle After Earth, a film that was intended to make Jaden Smith a star like his father, Will Smith. As with By the Sea, the elder Smith pushed back on Sony's marketing campaign that originally played up his image. The final poster for the $130 million film instead used a split face of the father and son, leaving one of the world's biggest stars barely recognizable.
"With these types of movies, you're not swinging for the box-office fence," adds Dergarabedian. "You're swinging for the relationship-building fence and looking toward the future. Passion projects are a way to play chess with your stars. It's the 10-year plan for these studios, not the one-weekend plan."

But are studio relationships key to or killing Hollywood? As marketing expenses skyrocket for even modestly budgeted movies and studios make fewer homegrown films, many say the leverage has shifted away from stars. Plus, some of the best examples of passion projects that have worked were self-financed, like Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ ($612 million worldwide) and Magic Mike (star Channing Tatum and director Steven Soderbergh put up the $7 million budget for the film that earned $167 million worldwide).
Notes one producer who has worked with many of the above names, "The need to do favors doesn't make sense anymore."


28 38 By the Sea Uni. $193,030 +100.6% 126 +116 $1,532 $320,627 $10 2
Domestic:  $320,627    34.1%
Foreign:  $620,000    65.9%

Worldwide:  $940,627

Angelina Jolie being courted by Universal for Bride of Frankenstein remake

After two weeks of release, director/star Angelina Jolie’s relationship drama By the Sea has yet to cross the million dollar mark at the worldwide box office, but in spite of its perceived failure-to-launch, it could still prove a boon to Universal Pictures. In an article from The Hollywood Reporter about the studio’s tactics in greenlighting the art house film, it supposedly did so because they want Jolie to headline their remake of the 1935 camp horror classic The Bride of Frankenstein.
First announced in 2009, the Bride redo was being developed as a directing vehicle for Neil Burger (Limitless, Divergent), to be produced by Brian Grazer and and Sean Daniel with a screenplay by Burger and Dirk Wittenborn (The Lucky Ones). Although the article states Grazer is still the active producer, there’s no confirmation one way or the other about Burger’s involvement, although he certainly has more clout than he did in ’09. There is also no mention of whether Bride of Frankenstein would be integrated into the shared cinematic Monster Universe that Universal is developing under writers Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan.
The Morgan-scripted 2008 action hit Wanted may also be getting a sequel, as the article hints that the studio would like Angelina Jolie to star in Wanted 2, although that has been batting around the studio for some time with little movement. Ultimately, Jolie is rumored to favor in-development sequels to more recent hits like Maleficent or Salt if she wanted to go the franchise route, a path she has avoided since the failure of 2003’s Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life.
The original Bride of Frankenstein was directed by James Whale and starred Boris Karloff as the monster and Elsa Lanchester as the titular bride, continuing the story that began with 1931’s Frankenstein. Compared to its predecessor it was a much lighter, more surreal film made with a certain degree of mocking meta humor, including an opening featuring Lanchester as author Mary Shelley.
(Photo credit: WENN)

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